Strat-O-Matic Celebrity Q & A with Ben Bernanke
In this edition of the Strat-O-Matic Celebrity Q & A series, Strat-O-Matic interviewed Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke is an avid baseball fan and made reference to playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball as a teenager in his memoir, "The Courage to Act."
Question: When was the first time you played Strat-O-Matic? Who introduced you to the game?
Ben Bernanke: I must have been about eleven. I saw an ad for the game in a baseball magazine and asked my parents to let me order it.
Question: Who was your favorite person to play with?
Ben Bernanke: An older friend of mine, Nathan Goldman. We’d play for many hours, especially in the summer.
Question: Did Strat-O-Matic give you an interest in probability and statistics? Or was it your love of math and numbers that made Strat-O-Matic so appealing to you?
Ben Bernanke: A little of both. I did learn a lot about probability from Strat-O-Matic.
Question: What did you enjoy most about playing? What made the game fun for you?
Ben Bernanke: I enjoyed the simulated drama of the games, but, being a nerd, I also liked the statistics. My friend Nathan and I would keep box scores and calculate league leaders in the key categories.
Question: Do you think playing Strat-O-Matic improved your math skills at all? If so, how?
Ben Bernanke: Yes. For example, I “reverse engineered” Strat-O-Matic to figure out the relationship between the cards and the players’ statistics. I also got good at figuring batting averages in my head.
Question: Is there a memorable Strat-O-Matic game or moment from your childhood that stands out most?
Ben Bernanke: It seemed like we had more extra-inning thrillers than there were in the real game. I don’t know why.
Question: All-time favorite Strat-O-Matic card to play with?
Ben Bernanke: Strat-O-Matic offered an old-timers’ series, with cards for the great teams of the past. You could play the 1927 Yankees against the 1934 Cardinals, for example. I learned a lot about baseball history and the great players of the past by playing with that set.
Question: What is your favorite baseball statistic to look at in evaluating a hitter’s ability? Favorite statistic for pitchers?
Ben Bernanke: Probably WAR or OPS for hitters. K/BB is useful for pitchers.
Question: You witnessed Max Scherzer pitch a no-hitter in person this past season for the Nationals. Ever have a no-hitter in Strat-O-Matic?
Ben Bernanke: Scherzer actually came within one pitch of a perfect game. I’m sure I did have no-hitters in Strat-O-Matic, but I don’t remember details.
Question: What do you think children today can learn from playing Strat-O-Matic?
Ben Bernanke: I think it’s better for the imagination to play a game like Strat-O-Matic, with the action in your head, than to play a video game which focuses on physical reflexes.
Question: If you could play anyone in a single game of Strat, who would you choose and why?
Ben Bernanke: Maybe Billy Beane, because of his understanding of baseball statistics and strategy.
Question: You are named Commissioner of Major League Baseball for a day. What’s the one thing you would change?
Ben Bernanke: Late night World Series games. Kids can’t stay up that late.
Published: January 11, 2016
Published: January 11, 2016